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SCED's speech at launch of East Funding Company platform (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the launch of the East Funding Company platform today (July 8):

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Thank you very much for inviting me to be your guest of honour today. I am delighted to be here to help start this Meetup Series jointly developed by KPMG and East Funding, and to launch the East Funding Company platform. I would like to congratulate both organisations for their efforts to help Asian start-ups to meet investors and raise funds, hire talent and meet corporates while also promoting Hong Kong as a hub to develop entrepreneurial activity in the region.

     It's great to see so many representatives from corporates, investors and start-ups together in one room at the same time. I think that Hong Kong is an ideal hub not only for new technologies but also for innovation and collaboration between all of you. I hope that this new initiative will engage you in our shared vision to build Hong Kong's ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.

     Apart from this lofty goal, I hope that initiatives like this will enable our city to attract investors and the best entrepreneurial talent and innovative, scalable start-ups to use Hong Kong as their laboratory, showcase and global launch pad.

     For me, there is no question that we need to continue to diversify our city's economy through innovation and technology. But we have to do it step by step - albeit right now at a rather fast pace - and learn as we go from the experience of other leading start-up centres in order to make Hong Kong Asia's start-up hub, a vibrant ecosystem of innovation.

     I am sure you will agree with me that Hong Kong has all the right ingredients of an attractive innovation and entrepreneur hub in Asia. We are very encouraged to see an increasing number of start-up entrepreneurs, angel investors, mentors, entrepreneurship clubs, incubators, associations, university entrepreneur centres and co-work spaces setting up in the city. All these will help us to build a friendly environment in which start-up entrepreneurs and relevant stakeholders can easily connect with each other, exchange information and seek mutual support.

     And the good news here is that we have seen, over the past three years, a jump in the number of start-ups setting up in our city. Among the new businesses set up in Hong Kong in 2013 with assistance provided by Invest Hong Kong, more than 16 per cent were start-ups, up from 11 per cent in 2010. The trend is continuing to grow steadily: 17.5 per cent of Invest Hong Kong's completed projects in the first half of this year were start-ups.

     So what I am talking about is building the ecosystem to support new entrepreneurs to start their businesses and employ people and service providers. The Government's role in this is to try to do everything we can to encourage more start-ups and then to assist them to grow, get financing, take people on, and compete and succeed.

     We are putting a great deal of time and effort into building a favourable ecosystem and operating environment for start-ups and young growth companies. For example, we are continuing to fund the StartmeupHK Venture Programme of Invest Hong Kong. Some of you may have been at the launch event in Sky100 last month. It is hard to deny the incredible buzz that was generated that evening. The global business plan competition that the department launched will close for applications on July 31. I encourage all start-ups in the audience to enter, and everyone else to please help spread the word to your contacts.

     The competition winners will pitch for prizes at a forum in Hong Kong on November 11. I understand there will be an entire entrepreneurship week at that time to group all relevant events to maximise the synergy and create even more of a kick.

     Together with private sector initiatives such as today's, these measures will help build a thriving start-up ecosystem in which overseas and local entrepreneurs can easily access timely and relevant information and, importantly, the support they need from the wider investor community, in which many of you here today play a significant role.

     Invest Hong Kong will continue to connect stakeholders in the start-up community in Hong Kong with those overseas, encourage and support the best start-ups to set up a base in our city, and promote our unique ecosystem.

     Against this background, I think we have every reason to be confident about the future. I encourage and look forward to the support of multinationals and large enterprises based in Hong Kong for start-ups in their respective focused industries, and I invite angel investors, venture capital firms, private equity investors and family offices to play an active role in building and shaping Hong Kong into a leading destination and hub for the best entrepreneurs from around the world.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:52


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